Almar Atlason fled his box this morning. He hugged his friends and family, then left so he could go have a smoke.
If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, let me introduce you to Almar, an Icelandic art student who lived inside a glass box for a week, relying on the kindness of others to help sustain him. I wrote about him last week and answered many of the common questions people had about what he was doing
Watching Almar in his little aquarium was relaxing. People on Twitter have joked that watching him was as relaxing as watching a goldfish. He was their human goldfish for a week. I guess he was mine too. I watched him everyday since I first learned of his art project on Tuesday, last week.
My kid thought I was crazy. My husband thought we had burglars in the house because I forgot to shut of the stream one night before going to bed. But I had a stressful week, and having Almar reading his various books or pounding out a beat or doing yoga stretches while I tarried away made me feel a little more relaxed.
So now what? What am I and all the other Almar viewers going to do without him? It’s like there is life before Almar and life after Almar. And why did he so capture our attention?
I love this screenshot above that I got of him. This was his final day. He seemed agitated, shaking foot and struggling to get comfortable. He made faces at himself in the reflection of the glass. He tired to read but couldn’t get into it. He drew, but only for short periods of time. To me it looked like he couldn’t wait to get out. It could’ve been his craving for a smoke or to finally be able to talk again. Perhaps he was starting to suffer from the lack of physical contact that is an essential to life. I’m not sure, but when he put his head down and rocked, it felt as if I was being invited into a very private moment of dispair.
Not long after I took that shot, a man came to visit Almar. I don’t know who it was, but he read aloud for at least a half hour. Almar visibly relaxed. His agitation went away. Having someone read to you is such a gift, especially as an adult. We read to children all the time, but how often do we share that intimacy with other adults.
First clothing, then homes, then transportation, and now technology have taken us further and further away from each other. We have friendships with people on the other side of the world through keyboards, but we many never see them. We spend the majority of our waking hours with coworkers who we see, but they are essentially strangers. Oftentimes we hold out our hands to keep them from getting too close.
Yet, Almar opened himself up to a whole world of strangers. We watched some of his most private moments (vomiting, masturbating, peeing, pooping, and being goofy to pass the time), and he invited us to do so. He bared himself. Not just down to his skin. He bared so much more. And at the risk of sounding cheesy, I think he helped us bare a bit of ourselves in the process.
If you watched Almar, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
- Did his experiment stick with you as you moved about your day?
- Did you connect previously unrelated thought together?
- What do you think his experiment says about the world?
- The human condition?
- Any other thoughts?
Gonna miss you, Almar. I can’t wait to hear from you again. I also hope you enjoyed a nice shower and a long soak in a hot tub.